GREENVILLE – The Greenville Eastern North Carolina (ENC) Alliance, a public-private partnership focused on economic development in Greenville and Pitt County, is working to diversify the area’s industry base by requesting a text amendment.

The City of Greenville’s Planning and Zoning Commission approved the Greenville ENC Alliance’s text amendment request in December, allowing it to move on to City Council for final approval on Thursday, January 13. The approval from the Planning and Zoning Commission amends Title 9, Chapter 4 of the City Code to establish “modular data processing facility” and “data processing center” as two separate uses, associated standards and zoning districts.

“As the Greenville ENC Alliance works to diversify our industries for recruitment, we felt that it was imperative to now address this ordinance to allow us to create opportunities for growth in the tech sector,” said Uconda Dunn, vice president of business development for the Greenville ENC Alliance. “In recent years, Greenville has received great interest from tech companies, and we look forward to assisting them in site location and facilitation.”

Aerial view of Compute North 1. (Compute North photo)

One of those companies is Compute North, a data center infrastructure company based out of Minnesota. Currently, Compute North owns and operates data processing centers in Texas, South Dakota, and Nebraska. The company is looking to expand to North Carolina due to its business-friendly climate and continues to evaluate multiple sites for a data center facility in the eastern part of the state, including Greenville.

“We are specifically focusing on locations that are zoned industrial around current industry,” said Kristyan Mjolsnes, vice president of marketing and spokesperson for Compute North. “Although Compute North is not the applicant for the text amendment, we do support the efforts of the Greenville ENC Alliance to bring new technology companies to the area and we are in favor of the text amendment.”

Compute North is a leader in TIER 0™ data centers which are built for distributed computing. In addition to interest in locating in Greenville, the company is actively working to finalize the required technical developments to support Optimized Distributed Computing (ODC) – or non-crypto computing – and expects to have their first ODC customer live in early 2022.

“With the text amendment approval and support from the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission, we look forward to putting this in front of Greenville’s pro-business, pro-growth City Council on Thursday,” added Dunn.

If the amendment is approved, Compute North would look at developing its first data center infrastructure project on the east coast in Greenville. Compute North would expect an initial upfront development investment of roughly $55 million for this project. In addition, the project is expected to create numerous contract jobs and 15 local full-time jobs with an estimated annual salary that is 20% higher than the average wage of Pitt County. The company is also exploring ways to add value to the community through sponsorships, educational training, and scholarship opportunities.

Compute North’s energy usage will come from Greenville Utilities Commission (GUC) and no additional energy purchases are necessary to support facility operations. In fact, by more fully utilizing existing wholesale power agreements – and providing demand response services – it is likely that Compute North will help to stabilize GUC power costs in the mid to long term.

“We have been working with the Greenville ENC Alliance to attract businesses who could help us grow, diversify, and balance our customer load. The opportunity to attract a customer in the data center sector, such as Compute North, would help us achieve that. Such an addition would be beneficial to all of our customers and the City,” said GUC General Manager and CEO Tony Cannon. “GUC supports the work of the Alliance and others who want to and actively work to bring the prosperity that comes with new industries and new businesses. Facilities with data processing and distributed computing would bring considerable investment, jobs, and electric load that would benefit the entire Greenville Region.”

Any location being considered by Compute North would undergo a full environmental and wildlife investigation to insure compatibility with environmental regulations. In addition, the facility would not create toxins as there are no coolants or other chemicals used in the operation of their containers. The project will also be required to follow all local sound, stormwater, and environmental regulations.

*Greenville Utilities Commission is a funding partner of the Greenville Eastern North Carolina (ENC) Alliance.